April 05, 2011
Serena jumped two spots from No. 12 to No. 10 in the rankings released Monday even though she's been sidelined for the past eight months with various injuries. She lept past Marion Bartoli, Shahar Peer and her sister, Venus, to get back into the top 10. (Maria Sharapova passed them all to move from No. 13 to No. 9.)
The 14-time Grand Slam champion was ranked No. 1 when she suffered a foot injury before an exhibition match in Belgium last summer.
How did Serena manage to move up in the rankings without playing? The WTA rankings are generally based off the previous 365 days. When a tournament is played, its points count toward the rankings and replace those earned in the same event the previous year. For example, Bartoli got 450 rankings points for her semifinal appearance in Key Biscayne in 2010. This year, she lost in the round of 16 and earned 130 points. Net loss: 320 points.
Serena didn't play in Key Biscayne last year so she had no points to defend. While Bartoli, Peer and Venus all lost points in relation to last year, Serena's total rankings points stayed the same, enabling her to move past them.
Defending points leads to a number of similar rankings peculiarities. Last month, Li Na moved to a career high of No. 5 while in the midst of a four-match losing streak. More famously, Kim Clijsters won the U.S. Open in September and dropped two rankings spots.